|Finding and Learning the Cheng Man-Ching Style|
After deciding to study Tai Chi again I was frequently gathering in the parks in the Bay Area in California pushing hands with Tai Chi students from many styles, while trying to find a school, and was always not quite satisfied that I had found what I was looking for. One Sunday afternoon a man, Howard Wang, came to the park and pushed with us and everybody said to me "He pushes like you!". That got my attention! We pushed together and it was true. I was so happy to meet somebody with a soft touch. He told me that he practiced the Cheng Man-Ching style. I remembered then that Tchoung Ta-Tchen had also learned from, and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, the Cheng Man-Ching style. At that point I decided to seek out a teacher in the Cheng Man-Ching style.
The Cheng Man-Ching style was a natural fit after learning the Tchoung Ta-Tchen style. The Tchoung Ta-Tchen style I originally learned is the closest I have found to Cheng Man-Ching style because the Tchoung Ta-Tchen style follows most of the same principles as the Cheng Man-Ching style. It took quite some time looking, but I was finally able to find some teachers in the Bay Area that would teach me the Cheng Man-Ching style. These teachers were not taking new students but took me because I knew the form and had past experience. I felt blessed to have them teach me!
I learned from Pak Chan for some years and did a lot of push hands training. Pak was an awesome form, push hands and sword form teacher and I really miss his classes. No matter what mistakes I made Pak would always have the same reply to my question about what I needed to do to improve; "RELAX". And, he was always right! We would meet on Sunday mornings outside rain or shine, hot or cold at 7:30 am and generally practiced until around noon, or even longer. I would then leave his class, go home to eat some lunch, and then head to other parks to push hands with practitioners from other styles. Needless to say my legs were always extremely well worked out on Sundays! If there were teachers of the Cheng Man-Ching style in the Austin area of Pak's caliber then I would be signing up as a student right away! The Cheng Man-Ching style teaches relaxation better, in my humble opinion, than any other style and that is why I am so motivated to teach it. I want to have people to practice with that follow the same principles!
Another really good instructor, and one of Paks classmates, is Ed Chan who I was introduced to by Tony Wong, a Chen Style Tai Chi teacher, in the Bay Area. We met at a San Francisco Tai Chi gathering. Tony knew that Ed was an excellent Cheng Man-Ching practitioner and helped me to contact Ed. Unfortunately, Ed was not interested in teaching at the time. Fortunately Ed introduced me to Pak Chan who agreed to teach me. Then Ed and I got together every Tuesday evening for push hands in the yard of a local school. He also is VERY skilled at push hands and I learned a tremendous amount pushing with him. I had to really learn to relax otherwise I would be pushed around like a rag doll! I am deeply indebted to Ed for all his instruction! And, Fortunately for his present students, Ed Chan is now teaching a Tai Chi class!
The pictures above show Ed Chan pushing out an oppenent at a Push Hands Competition.
I had the good fortune to meet Benjamin Lo and received a little instruction from him. Ben is the teacher for both of my Bay Area instructors, Pak and Ed. Of course, now I wish that I had gone to meet with Ben Lo more often! Hind-site is always 20/20! Benjamin Lo has had more than 50 years of experience teaching T'ai Chi Ch'uan. He has been giving workshops across the United States as well as in Europe. Ben Lo is probably the mostly highly skilled Tai Chi practitioner alive in the United States. I can hardly count the number of highly skilled Tai Chi practitioners that have learned from Ben Lo!
In my visit with Ben he walked up to me and touched the little finger of one of my hands to show me that I was holding tension in that finger. Two weeks later I totally tore that finger up, doing push hands, because the little finger was tense. I won't show you the pictures of my finger entirely black and blue. But, needless to say I learned the importance of relaxing. Injuries happen because of tension!
It also became apparent how small the world of Tai Chi is even though people are practicing around the globe. I showed Ben Lo a picture of my first teacher, Tchoung Ta-Tchen together with Cheng Man-Ching as younger men. Ben recognized Tchoung from the picture in Tchoung's Tai Chi book, and remembered Tchoung sometimes practicing with Cheng Man-Ching students during their early days in Taiwan!